I almost never read children’s books, since my list of unread novels aimed at adults is already far too long. But a few years ago I took time, on the advice of friends, to read Philip Pullman’s trilogy – His Dark Materials. The initial book of the trilogy, Northern Lights, won the coveted Carnegie Medal in 1995. Last night it was declared the finest children’s book of the last 70 years, and awarded the Carnegie of Carnegies 70th Anniversary Medal.
The trilogy is remarkable fiction, taking on the themes of science, religion, authority and morality in a wonderfully rich array of parallel fantasy worlds. This is seriously educated fiction, drawing on cosmology, particle physics, philosophy, theology and history, and pitched at children. It is sometimes violent, sometimes upsetting, but ultimately uplifting. If you have kids, they’ll love it. If you haven’t read it already, you might find yourself itching for them to finish each book so that you can get your hands on it.